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Cat. No. CHAN 10465 Price: £10.5 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 10465 - Vaughan Williams: On Wenlock Edge/ Piano Quintet/Romance and Pastoral
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Available From: 01 April 2008
On Wenlock Edge is a song cycle for tenor, piano and string quartet, published in 1909, setting six poems from A.E. Housman’s A Shropshire Lad. Although there have been a number of recordings of this song cycle, this disc features the remarkable voice of Mark Padmore and uniquely adds the early Piano Quintet in C minor, now released for performance by the composer’s widow and published in 2002, and also the Romance and Pastorale, two similarly early, brief lyric pieces for violin and piano published in 1923. The Quintet was written for piano, violin, viola, cello and double-bass – as was Schubert’s ‘Trout’ Quintet. It is a wonderful early work, full of passion and melodic invention.

This recording marks the Schubert Ensemble’s debut on Chandos and also its 25th anniversary. The Ensemble has always been at the forefront of British chamber music performance and is now firmly established as one of the world’s leading exponents of music for piano and strings. Classic FM Magazine has written, ‘The Schubert Ensemble of London are a marvellously unified ensemble, imparting their energy and lyricism to anything to which they turn their expert hands’, while Fanfare recently commented, ‘The performances by The Schubert Ensemble are exactly what the music requires – they fizzle with energy and pep’.

"Padmore is something special in Wenlock, while the Quintet is striking."


"Today it is easier to understand how the Vaughan Williams of 1919, a composer with a real voice of his own, would have wanted to disown the Brahmsian elements that are so obvious in the Quintet, but the Schubert Ensemble’s vivid performance shows that within the well-constructed work there were already hints of the individuality that would come to the fore within a few years. Mark Padmore is the impassioned tenor soloist, and he identifies the setting of Is My Team Ploughing as the emotional epicentre of the cycle, from which waves of foreboding spread ominously through the work."

The Guardian

"Mark Padmore brings a remarkable range of subtle tone-colouring and expressive nuances to the Housman settings of On Wenlock Edge, notably in the drama of ‘Is my team ploughing?’ and in the ravel-influenced ‘Bredon Hill’, with its inspired pictorial writing to piano quintet. It was a good idea to follow it with the 1905 Piano Quintet in C minor, revived only in 1999, but well worth rescuing from oblivion. It is not yet mature VW, but near enough, especially in the slow movement."

Sunday Telegraph

"Sharp lines and lucid textures etch a clean instrumental background to Mark Padmore’s vocals in Vaughan Williams’s Housman cycle, whose ‘blue remembered hills’ provide the location for these confessions of a troubled heart. The composer’s lessons with Ravel resulted in rain-washed, bell-soaked harmonies that draw is into the land of lost content, where Padmore is poised on a knife-edge between resignation and despair. The disc’s makeweights are the early, Brahmsian Piano Quintet and the exquisitely sad Romance and Pastorale for violin and piano, played with rapt intensity by Simon Blendis and William Howard."

Independent on Sunday

"His [Mark Padmore] way with this indispensible and most intense, even passionate of Vaughan William’s earlier works lacks nothing in individuality."

International Record Review

"Padmore has established himself as a quintessentially English tenor, very much in the Peter Pears tradition, but his traversal of Vaughan Williams’s early song cycle arouses mixed feelings. In the softer music he is tellingly candid, his sweet tone matching the winsome character of the Houseman poems."

Financial Times

"Even so, this one is unusually memorable, with sensitive, cliche-free singing from British tenor Mark Padmore and an accompaniment from the Schubert Ensemble to match. These superb players them impress even more in the early, very Brahmsian, Paino Quintet (would we guess this was Vaughan Williams if we didn’t know ?): the playing here has serious power, plus the loveliest range of light and shade. And Simon Blendis and William Howard excel also in teh Romance an Pastorale for violin and Piano."

Classic FM Magazine

"Mark Padmore takes a generally lyrical view of the cycle with clear, confident and articulate singing."

RVW Society Journal


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